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Thursday, March 20, 2008

Pentagon Enters The Cyber Contact Race In a Hurry

We see now from our previous story Cyber Contacts - Terminator Type Visual Display that the Pentagon has now jumped into the race of Cyber Contact Lenses.

Today, a handful of soldiers with advanced gear can see a few digital maps, through helmet-mounted monocles. Some pilots can get data about their world, on heads-up displays. But one day, troops could see an info-"augmented" reality all around them, with contact lenses that provide "first-person shooter-type video game" environments to those that wear them. At least, that's the idea behind the latest project from DARPA, the Pentagon's blue sky science and technology division.

The agency's Information Processing Techniques Office announced Wednesday that it's looking for information on "the creation of micro- and nano-scale display technologies for the purpose of creating displays that could be worn as transparent contact lenses." And not in some far-off future. But in "three to five years."

Potential uses include virtual displays for pilots, videogame projections and telescopic vision for soldiers. A working prototype of a lens-embedded antenna that draws power for the device from radio frequencies has also been created. The next steps are to build a version that can display several pixels -- and then to test it on a person.

The UW team uses a technique called self-assembly to manufacture the eyewear. Researchers dust a specially designed contact lens with microscale components that automatically bond to predetermined receptor sites. The shape of each component dictates where it attaches.